The Carr Center for Human Rights Policy serves as the hub of the Harvard Kennedy School’s research, teaching, and training in the human rights domain. The center embraces a dual mission: to educate students and the next generation of leaders from around the world in human rights policy and practice; and to convene and provide policy-relevant knowledge to international organizations, governments, policymakers, and businesses.

 

News and Announcements

Guantanamo

Guantánamo: Bush-era Officials Warn Keeping Prison Open May be $6bn Error

February 2, 2018

Article features Carr Center Senior Fellow Alberto Mora
 

Alberto Mora, general counsel of the Department of the Navy from 2001 to 2006, expressed hope that Mattis, who persuaded Trump not to resume the use of torture, may also convince him not to send more inmates to Guantánamo, which Mora called “a ludicrous and extravagant waste of military manpower”.

But even if no more prisoners are sent there, Trump’s...

Read more about Guantánamo: Bush-era Officials Warn Keeping Prison Open May be $6bn Error
See all announcements

Latest Publications

(Re)discovering duties: individual responsibilities in the age of rights

Citation:

Kathryn Sikkink and Fernando Berdion Del Valle. 2017. “(Re)discovering duties: individual responsibilities in the age of rights.” Minnesota Journal of International Law, 26, 1, Pp. 189-245. See full text.
(Re)discovering duties: individual responsibilities in the age of rights

Abstract:

Kathryn Sikkink and Fernando Berdion Del Valle publish new article in Minnesota Journal of International Law: "(Re)discovering Duties: Individual Responsibilities in the Age of Rights."

“There cannot be ‘innate’ rights in any other sense than that in which there are innate duties, of which, however, much less has been heard.”

Their article seeks to recover the tradition of individual duties that is integral to the historical origins of international human rights, arguing that increased attention to duties and responsibilities in international politics can be necessary complements to promoting human rights, particularly economic, social, and cultural rights.

 

 

: Kathryn Sikkink et al. | 2017
: Rediscovering Duties: Individual Responsibilities in the Age of Rights
Last updated on 01/24/2020

The Prospects, Problems, and Proliferation of Recent UN Investigations of International Law Violations

Citation:

Zachary D. Kaufman. 2/22/2018. “The Prospects, Problems, and Proliferation of Recent UN Investigations of International Law Violations.” Journal of International Criminal Justice, 16, 1, Pp. 93-112. See full text.
The Prospects, Problems, and Proliferation of Recent UN Investigations of International Law Violations

Abstract:

In his recent article, The Prospects, Problems and Proliferation of Recent UN Investigations of International Law Violations, Zachary Kaufman examines investigations into atrocity crimes in Iraq, Syria, Myanmar, Burundi, and Yemen. 

 

Atrocity crimes rage today in Iraq, Syria, Myanmar, Burundi, and Yemen. Given their potential to establish facts and promote accountability, recently opened United Nations investigations of international law violations in each of these states are thus a welcome, even if belated, development. However, these initiatives prompt questions about their designs, both in isolation and relative to each other.

This article describes the investigations into alleged violations in these five states, examines their respective sponsors and scopes, and presents a wide range of questions about the investigations and their implications, including their coordination with each other and their use of evidence in domestic, foreign, hybrid, and international courts (such as the International Criminal Court). The article concludes that, while seeking accountability for international law violations is certainly laudatory, these particular investigations raise significant questions about achieving that goal amidst rampant human rights abuses in these five states and beyond. International lawyers, atrocity crime survivors, and other observers thus await answers before assessing whether these investigations will truly promote justice. 

 

: Zachary D. Kaufman | Feb 22 2018
: The Prospects, Problems and Proliferation of Recent UN Investigations of International Law Violations
Last updated on 01/24/2020

How Democracy in America Can Survive Donald Trump

Citation:

John Shattuck. 2/23/2018. “How Democracy in America Can Survive Donald Trump.” The American Prospect. Publisher's Version
How Democracy in America Can Survive Donald Trump

Abstract:

New article by Senior Fellow John Shattuck in The American Prospect.

Alexis de Tocqueville observed in 1835 that “the greatness of America lies not in being more enlightened than any other nation, but rather in her ability to repair her faults.” Tocqueville’s observation, broadly accurate over the past two centuries, is facing perhaps its most severe test today.

In its 2016 “Democracy Index” report, the Economist Intelligence Unit downgraded the United States from a “full” to a “flawed democracy.” In 2018, Freedom House offered a more dire assessment: “[D]emocratic institutions have suffered erosion, as reflected in partisan manipulation of the electoral process, bias and dysfunction in the criminal justice system, and growing disparities in wealth, economic opportunity, and political influence.”

Declining participation and confidence in government are not new, but the populist forces that propelled the election of Donald Trump signaled a new level of public disillusionment with democratic politics and institutions. During his campaign and first year in office, Trump’s core constituency cheered him on as he attacked fundamental elements of liberal democracy, including media freedom, judicial independence, and a pluralist civil society. 

Read the full article in The American Prospect. 

: John Shattuck | Feb 23 2018
: New article by Senior Fellow John Shattuck in The American Prospect.
Last updated on 02/25/2020
See all publications

 

“The Carr Center is building a bridge between ideas on human rights and the practice on the ground. Right now we are at a critical juncture. The pace of technological change and the rise of authoritarian governments are both examples of serious challenges to the flourishing of individual rights. It’s crucial that Harvard and the Kennedy School continue to be a major influence in keeping human rights ideals alive. The Carr Center is a focal point for this important task.”

 

- Mathias Risse